By Uri Avnery
Donald Trump has spat in my face.
Not only in my own face, but in the faces of at least half the Israeli population.
He has appointed a bankruptcy lawyer named David Friedman to the job of US ambassador in Israel.
This sounds like a bad joke. But it is brutal reality. It sets a precedent unknown in the annals of international diplomacy.
First of all, it is bad practice to appoint an ambassador to a country with which he has a deep personal connection. You don’t send a Cuban-American Castro-hater to be the US ambassador in Havana. You don’t send Kuomintang Chinese from Taiwan to be US ambassador in Beijing.
True, it is not the first time an American Jew has been appointed ambassador to Israel. There have been two or three, who could just as well have served as Israeli ambassadors to Washington. But they were far less opinionated than this specimen.
An ambassador serves as the eyes and ears of the home country in a foreign state. Among his tasks is providing his superiors in the foreign office with reliable, unbiased information, on which to base policy. The ideal ambassador is a cool observer, with no strong feelings towards the country of his mission, neither positive nor negative.
This description of a diplomat is the exact opposite of this particular individual.
It would have been far more reasonable to appoint David Friedman as Israeli ambassador to the United States. Unfortunately this post is already occupied – by another American Jew. Rumor has it that he was appointed by Netanyahu at the request of Sheldon Adelson, a Jewish casino magnate, who puts his money where his mouth is – in the far-far-far Israeli right.
But even this person is a leftist compared to David Friedman.
The name, of course, is a joke in itself. Friede in German means peace, but this David is the opposite of a Man of Peace. The Biblical David, by the way, was a man of war through and through, and for this reason God decreed that only his son, Solomon, would build the First Temple.
So who is this man of peace? Since the news of his coming appointment became known, the internet has been flooded with quotations from his sayings. All of them incredible, each one more than the last.
One thing stands out even on first reading: when this future US ambassador says “we”, he means “we Israelis”. “we true Israelis”, “we Israeli patriots”. The territory of Greater Israel, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan river (at least) is “our country”.
Friedman does not identify with all Israelis. He seems to think that most of us are blind, imbeciles, defeatists. or worse – traitors. This would set a world record: most Israelis, it appears, are traitors.
So who does Friedman really identify with? A representative sample of his utterances make this quite clear: he considers himself to belong to about 5% of the Israeli population: the settlers and the extreme Right.
Here are some of his outstanding opinions;
- The Arab citizens of Israel, some 21% percent of the population, should be stripped of their citizenship. Rather like stripping all African-Americans of their US citizenship.
- There is no “Two-State Solution”. Even mentioning such a possibility verges on treason. (Since I have been accused of having been the first to voice this solution in 1949, this is more spit I have to wipe from my face.)
- No settler must be allowed to be removed from his “home”, even if this “home” is located on the private property of Arab farmers.
- In Greater Israel, from the sea to the river, Jews constitute a majority of 65%. This is a blatant lie: In this territory, including the Gaza Strip, the Arabs already constitute a majority.
- Future President Trump should be encouraged to dismiss all State Department personnel who advocate the Two-State Solution.
- Palestinians are corrupt.
- President Barak Obama is a “blatant antisemite”.
- Bashar al-Assad and Binyamin Netanyahu should be friends. Probably including Vladimir Putin – a winsome trio, Indeed.
- We need a World War against Islamic anti-Semitism.
- American and Israeli Jews who support the Israeli peace camp are worse than Kapos. (Kapo, short for Kamp-Polizei, or “camp police”, were camp inmates enlisted by the Nazis to uphold order in the death-camps, until they themselves were put to death.) This applies specifically to the mild and inoffensive “J Street” organization.
It also, of course, includes me.
If you were inclined to laugh out loud at some of these definitions, don’t. This is no laughing matter.
David Friedman is a serious person. He is a famous bankruptcy lawyer. But he is not being sent here to deal with the bankruptcy of the Netanyahu regime. On the contrary, he is sent to facilitate the setting up of an Israel government in which Netanyahu would constitute the extreme left. And this is not even an exaggeration.
Since 1967, the Israeli peace camp has prayed for the US to save Israel from itself. Every new president has been greeted with high hopes. Here is the man who will compel the government of Israel to give up the Palestinian territories and make peace with the Palestinians and the entire Arab world.
President Obama was only the last in line. Intelligent, good-looking, a rousing orator, full of noble intentions. But the results, as far as we are concerned, were nil. Yet now we wish that he had a third term.
I was always skeptical of this approach. Why would a US president stick his neck out to save Israel from itself, if the Israelis themselves are too lazy or cowardly to do so themselves?
(I have already mentioned lately that once, at an international conference, I accused the Spanish and European statesman, Miguel Moratinos, of failing to do so. He answered angrily that it was not his duty to save us, that it was our duty to save ourselves. I could not but agree in my heart.)
I have long ago given up any hope that the American administration will assist us in making a historic peace with the Palestinian people and in trading the occupied territories for peace. We shall have to do so ourselves. There is no other solution. The alternative so-called “one state solution” promises civil war for generations to come.
Anyone who is not blinded by ultra-nationalism and/or messianic fervor must surely see that. It is so simple.
The conquest of the remaining Palestinian territories in 1967 plunged Israel into a delirium that prevents us even today from listening to reason. The US, for its own reasons, has encouraged Israel to continue on this course.
President-elect Trump is set to push Israel forwards with all his might – forwards towards its eventual disaster.
Some 2000 years ago a Jewish Rebel called Bar-Kokhba (“Son of the Stars”) rose against almighty Rome. Intoxicated by some initial victories, he cried out to God: “Don’t help us, but at least don’t help our enemies!” God didn’t listen, and the rebellion was crushed by the Romans. The Jewish population of Palestine never recovered, until recently.
I would cry out to Donald Trump: “If you don’t help us achieve peace, at least don’t send us this sworn peace-wrecker.”